DISABLED people are unable to get the special equipment they need or the adaptations to their homes- even though the money is available - because of a shortage of occupational therapists. Huntingdonshire District council had ear-marked around £1.3million
DISABLED people are unable to get the special equipment they need or the adaptations to their homes- even though the money is available - because of a shortage of occupational therapists.
Huntingdonshire District council had ear-marked around £1.3million a year for grants to disabled people, to pay for ramps, stair lifts and level-access showers. The average cost is £4,500.
But to qualify for the grant, the person must be recommended by an occupational therapist - and it is taking up to a year to get assessed.
The council has released just £800,000 for the coming 12 months, £422,000 of which will come from central Government. However the money cannot be spent because the occupational therapists are not getting round to assessing people.
Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust, which provides the OT service, said the problem had been a hike in the number of referrals.
Sharron Cozens, the trust's county lead for adult services, said "We have a backlog of occupational therapy assessments which impacts on the Disabled Facilities Grant. This backlog is due to an increase of over 45 per cent in referrals for assessments in 2006/07.
"I would like to apologise to our clients for any inconvenience they are experiencing as a result of our assessment delays.
"We prioritise the referrals we receive according to need."
She said the PCT was managing the backlog in several different ways, including recruiting to fill vacant posts, looking at ways to make the referral process more efficient and ensuring all the resources county-wide were used in the most efficient and effective way.